5 Mistakes That Take Arguments To The Next Level

In every relationship, there are challenges. Perhaps the most difficult is communication. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about relationships with coworkers, family, friends, or romantic relationships. Communication is one of the hardest parts of any relationship. Why? There are so many reasons—different styles of communicating, the way we were raised, maturity levels, the way we view conflict, etc. And although we all have different communication styles, there seems to be some similar things that we all do or have done that takes a conversation and turns it into a heated argument. Here are some of the most common mistakes we make during an argument that eventually turns into a war.

1. Exaggerating

In the heat of the moment, when a discussion starts to slowly turn from a conversation into a debate and then eventually a full-on argument, a lot of us tend to start exaggerating to get our point across. Have you ever said things like “you always” or “you never” to someone? For example, it’s common when someone feels ignored by their partner and then yells about how they are “always” ignoring them although it’s far from the truth. Or perhaps your friend was late for a meet up and you angrily say that they’re “never” on time. Try to avoid using these phrases. Instead say “sometimes” or “at times” and maybe even “often times” if this problem is reoccurring. Be less dramatic and more accurate with your words.

2. Going off topic

Staying on topic during an argument is easier said than done. It’s common for discussions to go off topic. A common issue is bringing up the past or everything that has been bothering you all at once. Try to focus on the issue at hand instead of using this argument as an opportunity to bring up all issues at once. It’s unproductive and will likely make the other person feel defensive instead of open to hearing what you are saying.

3. Losing your cool.

Losing your cool is also unfortunately common during an argument but it is a sign of serious communication issues. If you are defensive and playing the victim you are likely to get frustrated because you view disagreements as a fight. If you view it as a fight, you will feel the need to win which already adds fuel to the fire. Try to use words like “I” instead of “you” and avoid using hateful or demeaning words. Say “I feel like you have been ignoring me lately.” Know that you are not trying to prove a point. You are expressing a need and trying to work through this issue with the other person. If you feel like you are getting angry, take a break.

4. Trying to win at all cost.

If you have a point you are trying to get across, know that “winning” is not the goal. Communicating is about explaining your feelings or issues and working towards a solution together. Don’t play the victim or speak only to respond. Often times, during arguments, people are too eager to get their point across that they aren’t truly talking but rather they are trying to win and to get the other person to give in. Disagreements get heated when you look at them as having a winner and a loser. It’s an issue that you are both trying to understand, identify, and come up with a solution for. According to Psychology Today, “There are numerous triggers for arguments, and it’s better to spew than to stew, but it’s always good to first think to yourself, “How will my partner receive this?” before saying anything. Taking this nanosecond before launching into your list of complaints du jour can prevent a momentary upsetness from spiraling downward.”

5. Defensive body language.

If your body language and/or your tone completely changes during a discussion, it can add an element of defensiveness and harshness to a conversation. Realistically, serious conversations can’t feel light and fun but if you are tense or seem angry, it can encourage a debate rather than a discussion. Avoid crossing your arms, rolling your eyes, or anything that can come off as angry or defensive. When you body language shifts, you’re alerting the other person that when things make you uncomfortable or don’t go your way, you shut down or throw a tantrum.

Communication skills require work and practice. If you’re doing anything above, the first step is admitting that it’s an issue. Knowing your triggers and finding healthy ways to express yourself can improve communication. On the other hand, if you’re on the other end of it, know that disagreements are normal but heated arguments are not.

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